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  • Writer's pictureScott for Buffalo Schools

Alternatives to School Suspension & Anti-Bullying Task Force

Social-emotional wellness, mental health, and real alternatives to suspension, are priorities of mine.

Today, I had the opportunity to meet with Mickey Vertino and Dina Thompson (President of Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition). ECRJC currently has a contract with Buffalo Public Schools and, among a few responsibilities, they are working closely with School 43 to implement restorative practices. It was an insightful and collaborative conversation about growing the work of restorative practices in our schools, communities, families, and with major stakeholders who impact our schools and youth.

In my work as an Alternative to Suspension Specialist, I facilitate consultation, conflict coaching, mediations, restorative conferences, and community service. I feel, daily, the power and healing of this work with students and staff. We need to grow this work in Buffalo Public Schools and in our communities. Our Buffalo Public Schools and students need more mental health professionals and staff providing real alternatives to suspension. More to come on this!

Similarly, the Buffalo News, today, featured a new Anti-bullying Task Force, which I am serving on, assembled by Erie County Family Court Judge Brenda Freedman and North District Board of Education Member Hope Jay. The Task Force is made up of many relevant stakeholders, beyond just Buffalo Public Schools, to address this matter holistically. I am inspired by the involvement of BPS staff, county officials, law enforcement, community-based organizations, parent leaders, and higher education staff. Judge Freedman should be commended for spearheading this effort. Task Force Member Jamie Ostrov, professor at UB, explained our purpose best:

“My view is the more stakeholders, the more members of the community who are educated on what bullying is, the greater likelihood we can effect change,” Ostrov said. “Awareness is one of the core features of prevention and not just for students, but anyone coming into contact with this, and that has to be part of the solution.”

Read the entire Buffalo News piece, by Jay Rey, here: Can the Court Fix Bullying? This judge thinks so

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